One continuing theme with Proglodytes concert reviews is how excited I have been over the last few years to see great progressive bands come to Kentucky. Bent Knee and Thank You Scientist announced a tour that passed through Newport, Kentucky. The venue is an old church that was renovated and turned into a bar and several stages. Seeing Bent Knee and Thank You Scientist on my turf, in a venue where many of my musician friends from Kentucky have played, was an amazing blending of worlds. And I adore the Southgate House- it’s a great space, and the mainstage usually has great acoustics.
Bent Knee took the stage right at 7:30 PM. If you follow Proglodytes, you’ve definitely heard of Bent Knee. Someone joked with me, after looking at my site, that I should change the name to BentKneelodytes. What can I say? They’re one of my favorite progressive rock bands, and they’re a wonderful, gracious group of people too. They opened with “Way Too Long”, the unsettling and heavy track from their amazing album Shiny Eyed Babies. The sound was really great, especially when one considers how much was going on behind the scenes sonically with Vince’s live manipulations.
Photo credit: Cedric Hendrix
Their set was a mix of songs from their 3 latest studio albums (Shiny Eyed Babies, Say So, and Land Animal), and 6 completely new songs. Among the new songs was their single “Catch Light”, which has been stuck in my head almost daily since I first heard it a few weeks ago. Other highlights: the sardonic and heavy “Lovemenot”, the tense, dramatic buildup in “Garbage Shark”, and the powerful and intense “Leak Water” from their 2016 album Say So.
The 6 new compositions we heard were seemingly straightforward, but deceptively so- they’re dense and heavy and dark and powerful, playing on each member’s strengths and demonstrating the sort of band synergy that only comes with time and effort.
Thank You Scientist took the stage next after a short break. Due to their nonstandard setup (drums, bass, guitar, violin, sax, trumpet, singer), live sound mixing is probably a harder job than it would be for a regular 3-4-5 piece rock band, but this time seeing them is the best I’ve ever heard them sound, so major props to the band and staff for creating a well balanced mix that allowed for each member to shine throughout the evening.
Photo credit: Cedric Hendrix
The bulk of Thank You Scientist’s set was from their mind-blowing new album, Terraformer. Their music is as technical, if not more technical than most progressive bands that embrace that genre label, but they write songs that are incredibly catchy and palatable for the average listener. Their new album is overflowing with great choruses and hooks, sung by their incredibly talented frontman Salvatore Marrano. His voice is such an integral part to Thank You Scientist’s sound, and it’s never been better utilized than in their new material.
Some highlights from their set: their first single, “FXMLDR”, which has the band firing on all cylinders from start to finish; the instrumental track “Chromology”, which featured some absolutely stunning solos from all of the band members; the epic closer to their new album and title track “Terraformer”; a blistering performance of “My Famed Disappearing Act” from their debut LP, Maps of Non-Existent Places that was somehow more energetic and charged up than I’ve ever seen it in my 4 times seeing them live.
Bent Knee and Thank You Scientist both represent a future I want to see for progressive music. Both bands are full of virtuosic musicians who write complex music that is somehow challenging without being inaccessible. They write with a vibrancy and open mindedness that has breathed new life into what can tend to be a stale genre. Both bands are relatively young, and have only released a few albums at this point, so I am looking forward to years and years of music from both acts.